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Not Half Bad

Not Half Bad

Ben and I went to college together.  We haven’t talked since graduation—which was more years ago than I’d like to admit—but his recent Instagram post stopped me in my tracks.  He’s apparently taken up bike racing as a hobby.  And as is the case for many guys in their late thirties, I’d imagine an element of competition and challenge makes fitness a little more fun.

Along with an adorable picture of his daughter celebrating him post-race he stated, “Extremely mediocre road season for me but Daphne didn’t care, she cheered hard anyway.  Can’t wait to return the favor!”  Ben’s caption, along with the unbridled joy displayed in the picture, took my breath away.

Cheers for mediocre performance.

Adulation for just being OK.

Hugs and smiles and pictures for the guy whose name wouldn’t appear in lights.

Isn’t that such a beautiful picture of the kind of acceptance and celebration for which we all long?  Most of us know what it feels like to work hard, accomplish something and receive accolades.  Many of us have proven ourselves through some sort of performance and basked in the response of claps and cheers.  But how many of us know unrestrained celebration over our mediocre days?

Let’s be honest – we live most of life in the mediocre.  Most days I can’t seem to get it together.  I lose things, forget things, and don’t have time to wash my hair.  My dinner doesn’t look like the Pinterest picture.  I have amazing plans to be the-best-mom-ever and then am short-tempered with my kids.  I leave my shoes in that spot just outside our bedroom door that drives my husband crazy.  I’m leading a women’s ministry and making mistakes all along the way.  Sometimes my blog posts don’t get a ton of reads.  My house isn’t nearly as well decorated as I thought it would be after living here for a year.  And I have really wonderful friends in far away cities to whom I desperately owe a phone call.

The Emmys were on TV the other night.  I didn’t watch, as my die-hard-Chicago-fan husband was pretty into the Bears game.  But I woke up to news notifications on my phone about the winners and a glitzy marriage proposal.  I’m so happy for all the television stars who walked away with Emmy awards for their hard work, but what if we lived in a reality where those whose names were never mentioned were given a chance to give speeches and receive a standing ovation and have champagne popped in their honor?  That notion is totally ridiculous to our sensibilities…

And yet, it’s the very thing for which our souls long.

Could it be that there is One who sees me in all of my mediocrity and celebrates me anyway?  Could it be that there’s a Love that’s truly untethered from my performance?  Some would say it’s too good to be true…which is what makes the Gospel good news.

When I trusted in Christ to rescue me from all the ways I suppress the truth of God and seek satisfaction outside of him, He gifted me right standing before God.  It’s mind-boggling – but when God looks at me now, he doesn’t see mediocre.  He sees the perfect record of his Son.  My lack of impressiveness, my failures, my non-Instagram worthy moments do not squelch the celebration of my Father over me.

He rejoices over me with gladness.  He exults over me with loud singing.  He quiets me with his love.  [Zephaniah 3:17]

Ben, what a gift you are to sweet Daphne.  So many girls don’t have the privilege of a dad who can’t wait to clap and cheer and jump up and down for her mediocre moments.  This will be deeply formative for her soul as you display God’s love for her.  I pray she’ll grow up in the freedom of knowing that she is so much more than her performance.  May God use your persistent affection to show her that He loves her always.

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Ashlee Johnson

Ashlee is the wife of a pastor, mom of two busy little ones, and a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Seminary. She is passionate about communicating the truths of Scripture to women and magnifying Jesus as the All-Satisfying Treasure and Almighty Redeemer. She has lived in North Carolina for most of her life and loves making the most of the sidewalks and parks in her 1940s neighborhood. Ashlee enjoys healthy eating and exercising, but finds it nearly impossible to resist homemade cookies!

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